"We got enough bombs and things already"

A melted clock from a WWII atomic explosion
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeA melted clock from a WWII atomic explosion - Credit: James
John Kennedy Toole was writing and revising A Confederacy of Dunces at perhaps the most tense point of the Cold War. In November 1960 America began its first nuclear submarine patrols with the USS George Washington, which had successfully launched a Polaris missile from underwater only three months before. In October 1961 the USSR exploded the world's most powerful nuclear bomb, known in the West as Tsar Bomba. And by October 1962 the world faced the very real possibility of all-out nuclear war before pulling back from the brink as the Cuban Missile Crisis was defused.